The 2022–23 State Budget will provide new funding for projects that recognise and engage the Australian South Sea Islander community.
Minister for Multicultural Affairs Leanne Linard said a $1.07 million investment over four years would raise awareness of Australian South Sea Islander people’s unique culture and history of contributing to Queensland’s cultural and economic development. It will also deliver more targeted and culturally appropriate support; help address disadvantages and meaningfully acknowledge past harm and trauma.
“Australian South Sea Islander peoples have maintained a rich cultural identity throughout Queensland from beginnings that, more often than not, were nothing short of horrendous,” Ms Linard said.
“Australian South Sea Islander people are the Australian-born direct descendants of around the 50,000 people who were brought to Queensland from some 80 Pacific Islands as sources of labour to work on cotton and sugar plantations.
“The majority of these people were kidnapped, ‘Blackbirded’ or deceived into coming. They experienced harsh treatment and discrimination during a shameful time in Australia’s history.
“We cannot right the wrongs of the past, but together we can shape our future and build on the benefits Australian South Sea Islander people bring to Queensland’s cultural and economic prosperity.
“This investment will help to address disadvantage, which will in turn potentially benefit future generations of Australian South Sea Islander people.”
Ms Linard said a dedicated Engagement Officer would be appointed to the Department of Multicultural Affairs to develop and oversee the delivery of initiatives in collaboration with the Queensland United Australian South Sea Islander Council.
“This position will be an important conduit between government and Australian South Sea Islander people. It will ensure their needs are understood across government and will build on existing work and seize future opportunities – particularly around culturally appropriate service delivery,” she said.
“We know we need to work collaboratively with the community to undertake activities that result in meaningful outcomes and can be embraced by all parties.”
Ms Linard said the Palaszczuk Government was committed to building a state where everyone, regardless of culture, language, or faith, is supported to connect, contribute, and belong.